We chatted to DAVID ARTUS, Director of the show, who is responsible for bringing the production to the Island, much to the joy of many ladies, myself included!
David, I'm guessing putting on a production takes a while in the planning. What made you think of putting on The Full Monty and how did it come to fruition?
Actually, I'm not sure why it hasn't been done before but this is a first for the Isle of Man. I guess it's one of those shows that various musical societies may deem too risky for their members and maybe the Isle of Man audience in general.
Anyway about a year ago James Turpin from JT Productions rang me out of the blue to ask if I'd be interested. I jumped at it of course, and along with my co-producers Gena Turpin and Gary Chatel we are having a ball putting the cast through their paces.
The Full Monty is a much cherished film and known for the occasional revealing moments but the story is more than that surely?
You're right. "The Full Monty" is not a show about male strippers, it is a human story about normal blokes trying to wrestle some control back into their lives after being made unemployed. Yes, the guys get naked at the end but this show is a brilliant comedy for all genders, and actually I think men will love this show as much as the ladies. Everyone remembers the cellophane/Mars Bar scene, and the little practice dance while queuing, well this version has all that but with some great music thrown in for good measure.
The actors playing the "Monty Six" must need to feel comfortable showing a bit of flesh and this may of put some people off going for the role. Was it a struggle to find cast members?
Surprisingly not. Actually I was overwhelmed with phone calls and emails from guys wanting to take part. So no shortage of exhibitionists among drama folk it seems! But the cast we have are amazing and I'm so proud of them, they have to sing and dance and not only that they have to act with a gritty reality you don't normally see in musicals. Saying that they are all struggling to keep a straight face in the rehearsals at the moment…. nothing that a full house won't cure!!
We're used to seeing you on the stage. Jean Valjean, in Les Miserables, being stand-out favourite. Were you not tempted to take a part yourself?
I was asked by the other producers if I'd consider taking a role, and for a fraction of a second I thought about it, this show is an actor's dream after all .i.e gritty, funny with moral and social messages. But there was no way I could direct and act and do both jobs well. Of course the real answer is that wild horses couldn't drag me on stage naked…it's not the Half Monty after all, and the theatre can be cold in May!!
Last week saw the news that the west end version of the show is closing its run earlier than expected due to poor ticket sales. Were you surprised to hear this?
I was sad when I heard this but not totally surprised if I'm honest. The West End version was a play with a little bit of music, our version is the much loved Musical version which has been around since the early 90's. Having said that it had been nominated for an Olivier award and tickets sales were growing. But the sad truth is that the West End is a commercial sausage machine and if you don't make a massive impact day one then you get closed. It's fair to say that if Les Miserables opened for the first time now then it would never have got off the ground.
I know you probably don't want to think about it yet but what next for you after The Full Monty?
Next for me is Panto this Christmas - Puss in Boots, This will be the seventh Gaiety Panto that we have produced with Dreamstar productions. I'm actually writing the script as we speak. It does seem pretty odd skipping between the two projects because they are so different. I just hope I don't get the two shows mixed up or I'll be shot!
The Full Monty is on at the Gaiety Theatre from the 16th May to 24th May - with a special early evening and late evening performance on Saturday 24th May.